Paperback launches…

I’m looking forward to the paperback launches of By Sword and Storm – the first is at Mainstreet Trading Book shop in St Boswells – a shop that has previously won Independent Bookshop of the Year, yet is situated in a wee village near to me. It is chock full of books and runs loads of events. My launch is classed as a private party – but they set it up, in their events space – the upper part of the barn labelled ‘HOME’ on the drawing – provide table / cloths and glasses for the nibbles and drinks, a stage etc with microphone and lots of chairs and also sell the books. My ambition is to get a launch officially up on their blackboard of events one day… Mainstreet Trading MapI’m very grateful for their willingness to host and to display  invites at their till for folk to pick up. Here’s the current invite. Mainstreet Invite Oct 3rd 2018 By S+SAnd I’m also grateful to historian John Wood, who will host the event – this will be the third he has hosted for me and he still remains willing!

On the 4th October I’ll be doing it all again at Blackwells Bookshop in Edinburgh – for those for whom getting to the Borders is a step too far…  Blackwells Edinburgh

They have a lovely event space upstairs and generously allow me into their staff kitchen to prepare the nibbles. I’m sad that this will be the last time that Ann Landmann will be on hand to make sure it all goes right, as she has moved to the publisher Birlinn, but very pleased that she is coming back for this launch.   David Bishop (Head of the Creative Writing MA at Napier University) has kindly agreed to host the launch – he’s reading the book just now – here’s hoping he’s enjoying it!

For anyone reading this who is within shooting distance of Edinburgh, the event is FREE but ticketed via  Eventbrite (for the sake of the bookshop re numbers to expect).

I would love to see anyone who is free to come to either of these events – the more the merrier. (It would be helpful to me for catering to have an idea of numbers also, so do please feel free to message me here or on Fb or text.)

And if you can’t come and / or are an ebook fan please note that the ebook (published by Corazon) has a different cover – a ship instead of a sword – you can find it on  Amazon  

And Monday morning I hope to get my head down on Katharina: Fortitude – the follow-up to  Katharina: Deliverance – which has just finished runner-up in the Historical Novel Society New Novel Award 2018 – I’m very pleased.

Munro meets the Poldarks.

Now here’s a thing – every writer has authors who have inspired them, whose work they admire and whom they would like to be compared to.

For me, one of those authors is Winston Graham, and in particular, the Poldark novels, especially the earlier ones.  (Another is Daphne du Maurier, but that’s another story, for another day.)

In fact, before I began to write my first Scottish novel, I dissected Graham’s first – Ross Poldark, analysing it in terms of, for example, structure, the interweaving of plotlines, the balance between dialogue, narration and description, and the methods used to convey the period.  In Turn of the Tide I didn’t set out to mimic Ross Poldark, but rather to apply the principles that I’d drawn from it.

So, in a sense, I’ve always though of Graham as a mentor. Which is why I was delighted when by chance I looked on Amazon one day and found Turn of the Tide sitting just below Demelza in the Amazon rankings. And thus began a wee contest with myself (some might say obsession!) – to try to collect screenshots with all of the Poldark novels.

And here they are – it took several weeks and countless quick forays into the Amazon lists, on both the UK site and the Australian one, but finally I got them all. They aren’t in the order I collected them, but in the order of the Poldark books.

Turn of the Tide + Ross Poldark 3 UKTurn of the Tide + Demelza Aug 2017 UKTOT and Jeremy Poldark Aug 2107

I wanted to ‘capture’ the books in pairs, but in the case of Warleggan that wasn’t possible and I had to settle in the end for a group of four. (I’m sure someone really technical could have cut out a diagonal, or blanked out the others, but that isn’t me – sadly.)

 

And as you can see I haven’t mastered the art of equalising the size of images either, but hey – I have them all – and that (ridiculous as it may seem) gives me a wee frisson of pleasure. It was interesting to see the different covers that had been produced over the recent past, my favourites are definitely the ones with some kind of paper in the background and a central image. And the idea of a distinct branding for a series is one I shall remember. I’m not sure about the image of Ross in the bottom corner, though. (Sorry Aidan Turner!)

 

Turn of the Tide + Four Swans Aug 2017 UKToT (#21) + Angry Tide Aug 20 AUTot + The stranger From the Sea Aug 2017Some of the titles I could have ‘captured’ multiple times, others remained elusive. The final one – which happened to be The Miller’s Dance – was frustratingly tricky – for days, as it went up, Turn of the Tide went down, and vice versa and as the maximum distance between them allowing me to capture a screen shot was one row either way, there couldn’t be more than 4 places between them. However, I got it in the end and as you can see from the numbers, came very close to not getting it at all.

Tot + Miller's Dance AU 11:09:17Each time I look at them it reminds of the way an individual story (or stories) take centre stage in the different books, but there remains a cohesion that runs through them all.Turn of the Tide + The Loving Cup (2) (UK) Aug 2017Interesting, too, for me, to see how the series develops, particularly over the lengthy time span and the move from a focus on Ross and Demelza themselves, to their children. And as a result how it is Demelza who increasingly becomes the more important character in the marriage partnership, through her empathy and greater understanding of their struggles.
Tot and Twisted Sword Aug 2017
Tot + Bella Poldark BB (AU)2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

As an example of how to develop a saga it continues to impress me and I couldn’t help be encouraged when someone likened the Munro saga to a Scottish Poldark – that can’t be bad. Though whether I could sustain their story for 12 books I’m not sure. Time will tell…

A first for me – a feature in a German newspaper

Torgau paperYesterday a link dropped onto my FB author page which, once I’d realised it was a link (several hours and someone’s comment later) took me straight to an article in a German newspaper, featuring the research visit I’d made to Torgau in Saxony just over a year ago. I was travelling in the footsteps of Katharina von Bora, the escaped nun who became Martin Luther’s wife, in order to paint an authentic background to my novel Katharina: Deliverance. Although I can’t read German, and have to rely on the less than idiomatic FB translation, it seems a lovely article and I’m chuffed to bits.

Yesterday I also discovered, in the spam folder of my email, that Torgau Information Centre had written to me two weeks ago, wanting a photograph to go with the article, but  by the time I found it the piece was written and published. Moral of the story – check your spam folder more than once a month! I am hoping that they might be able to send me a scanned copy of the article that I can print out and keep – to join my wee archive of newspaper coverage that I’ve had over the last few years. For those of you who can read German here’s the link

For those who can’t,  google translate gives the gist!

So my thanks to Anja, Ursula and Katrin of Torgau Tourist Information Centre and to Sebastian who wrote the article.

 

Editing – Day 1.

Editing of Turn of the Tide was a lengthy and rather ad hoc process. Having finished a first draft of its sequel yesterday I’m excited about starting on the editing process, which this time I’ve planned.

So today my plan was to skim through the entire manuscript – at just over 130,000 words a fairly big task – noting every place where I typed in red, indicating that there was something I wanted to check. I was so chuffed to manage that and now have a list to start working on and as I LOVE research tomorrow should be FUN.

Red Letter Day!

Yesterday I finished a first draft of the sequel to Turn of the Tide So today is a red letter day – when I begin the editing process. And I’m quite excited…

I’m also terrified that a re-read will throw up so much that needs to be altered that it’ll take another 2 1/2 years to do it!!

But actually I’m hoping that having learnt from the process with Book 1 that I’ll find the editing much quicker this time. (Hoping…)

I’m already setting down the various edits I want to do – I prefer to focus on particular aspects rather than attempt a cover-all edit. Some of which are: Story arc / balance between action and pause for breath / character development and of course grammar, punctuation and so on – NOT my forte – I tend to sprinkle commas like sugar.

And I do have one major problem – I don’t yet have a title…

Next step is to write that dreaded synopsis, perhaps a title will emerge from that process.

Where’s My Plaid? – Lovely new review for Turn of the Tide

Sometimes you get one of those reviews that really lifts your spirits and you know that what you’ve written has given a lot of enjoyment to a reader – this was one of those reviews.

4.0 out of 5 stars Where’s My Plaid!, March 9, 2015

By The Just-About-Average Ms. M (North Florida) – See all my reviews
This review is from: Turn of the Tide (Kindle Edition)

‘ The plot moves at a good, steady clip for those readers who prefer to be jostled along, but it also pauses from time to time to allow the setting to take a bow, or the weather, or the sometimes haunted—and haunting—ruminations of Munro, his wife, and a number of other characters. The slower parts are well-crafted, the descriptions those of someone who has been there, seen it all, and doubtless has several tee shirts to prove it. When the action escalates, which it often does, take a deep breath because you will feel the rush. Once you sort out who is who, and feel pretty certain you know not only how this story will progress but also how it will end, prepare to be embarrassed. Prepare to be amazed, rather, because you won’t see it coming.’

The full review can be seen here.

When History came to Life – Scotland’s History Festival 2014

After many years as the ‘Cinderella’ subject, history has been making a comeback. Authors of historical fiction are beating all comers in the big prize stakes, our TV schedules are full of (less than accurate) dramatizations such as The TudorsScreenshot 2015-02-05 09.05.46 and Reign, and currently the excellent adaptation of Wolf HallScreenshot 2015-02-05 09.07.09 and accessible documentary-style histories abound – who wouldn’t immediately recognize Neil Oliver’s flowing locks? Interest in history is alive and well and perhaps never more so than in 2014 when we remembered the start of The Great War.

There are now at least six festivals devoted to history in the UK, and they bear little relation to the dull history lessons I remember from my school days. From History Live at Kelmarsh Hall – an all-round ‘experience’ including the sights, sounds and smells in the living history encampments and re-enactments; to Harrogate’s History Festival, focusing on writing and writers. North of the border November is History Month, with PreviouslyScreenshot 2015-02-08 11.22.11 – Scotland’s History Festival delivering 140 events over 18 days in six towns – Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Dunfermline, Moffat and St Andrews. I was proud to be part of the programme.

As the introduction to the 2014 programme said: ‘History can shake the entire world – or just yours. It’s the story of nations, the clash of armies…and the scar on your knee where your brother pushed you on the rocks when you were seven. History hasn’t finished, and neither have we.’

That comprehensive view of history was reflected in the variety of events which were on offer, from workshops and walks, to tours and talks, from exhibitions and discussions, to music, art and theatre. It’s impossible to cover them all, but to give you a flavour…

Walking tours included Edinburgh’s atmospheric, underground Vaults;Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.27.48 the Secrets of the Royal Mile explored the closes, wynds and Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.31.07courtyards of Old Edinburgh; and the Dean Cemetery Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.29.08explored the host of fascinating characters interred there.

Historical novelists Andrew Williams, William Ryan and Edward Wilson discussed the shadow world of spies and secret policemen from WW1 to Vietnam; Shona Maclean, Marie Macpherson and Louise Turner talked about riot, murder and reformation; and Register House unveiled the story of the Kaiser’s Spy and the landlady who help the authorities to snare him.

Politics in Rhyme was much more entertaining than the real thing; and Stirling Castle hosted the FlytingScreenshot 2015-02-08 11.46.12
a verbal war between two of James IV’s makars, described as ‘a brilliant, beautiful and bawdy battle of verse and verb, originally written to please a king’.

There were four days of events celebrating the life, work and travels of Robert Louis Stevenson,Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.35.21 this quote is definitely one to live by, and a series focusing on significant women- in war: Weapons and Wounding; in education: Watt Wonderful Women – a talk on Heriot Watt University’s trailblazers; in trade: Women in 17th Century Fife Trade; and in drama: Miss Julie, Strindberg’s classic play.

As you might have expected in this centenary year, war was well represented; Leaving it all– Scottish soldiers’ wills and appeals against military service in WW1 a refreshingly different angle.

Food and drink weren’t forgotten: from The History of Gin and Distilling to Fireside Feast a three course banquet served in Riddle’s Court, in Edinburgh’s Old Town, similar to one that was served in 1598. (One I was sorry to miss.)

A host of events focused on family history: Getting Started with Family History Research, and the more unusual Hospital Records for Family Historians.

If your taste was for the creepy there was the Dark Truth Tour, Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.37.57or Ghosts and Ghouls.

Glasgow focused on the Irish connection; Dunfermline, on Andrew Carnegie; and St Andrews hosted a variety events in honour of St Andrew’s Day.

For children there was The Reluctant Time Traveller with Janis McKay (21st) and a varied schools programme; and two events for writers: Writing Your Story, Writing History with David Simons and Chris Dolan; and my workshop event: Screenshot 2015-02-08 11.40.17
History in Historical Fiction – Icing the Cake or Main Ingredient. I had the opportunity to present it twice – once in Edinburgh and once in St Andrews, the latter a particular pleasure for me returning to the old haunts where I’d spent my student days. And amazingly, one of the participants had gone to the same school as I had in Ulster, though not at the same time. I thoroughly enjoyed both events – I hope the folk attending did too! The feedback was good, so I guess they did.

All in all an exciting 18 days – I’m already mulling over options for a workshop or talk that I could present this year…roll on November!